|Birth: ||Nov. 22, 1893|
North Carolina, USA
|Death: ||Jan. 28, 2007|
Emma Faust Tillman, age 114, who was born to former slaves and lived to see 21 American presidencies, died at Riverside Health and Rehabilitation Center in East Hartford, CT. just four days after becoming the world's oldest known living person.
Mrs. Tillman, who lived independently until she was 110, died peacefully in the company of several family members.
She was deeply religious since childhood and always attributed her longevity to God's will, friends, and family. Her great-nephew, former Hartford fire chief John B. Stewart Jr., said that she never smoked, never drank, did not need glasses and only reluctantly agreed to wear a hearing aid.
Mrs. Tillman was born during the administration of President Benjamin Harrison on a plantation near Gibsonville, North Carolina, where her parents were born into slavery and where they and her grandfather were sharecroppers. She was one of 23 children, some of whom died at birth or in infancy. Many of those who survived lived almost as long as did she, including a brother who lived to be 108, a sister who reached 105 and two others who reached 102.
Seeking to escape Jim Crow legislation and the economic havoc that the boll weevil had wrought upon the region's cotton crops, the Fausts (who had taken the name of their former masters) moved from North Carolina to Glastonbury, CT. in 1900. Her father and some of her brothers got jobs on local tobacco and milk farms, while she and her mother cooked, picked and sold berries and did housework for several local families. She was the only African-American student in her high school when she graduated in 1909 but said she that never experienced discrimination there; whether she was in class, churning butter for a local family, or playing shortstop on a town baseball team.
"In Glastonbury, I didn't know if I was white or black," she said. "People were just fine, even way back then, to me. They treated me just like everybody else."
Mrs. Tillman worked as a cook, maid, party caterer and caretaker for several wealthy Hartford-area families. She later ran her own baking and catering service whose regular customers included Dr. Thomas Hepburn and Katharine Houghton Hepburn, parents of actress Katharine Hepburn and her brothers,Thomas Houghton Hepburn and Richard Houghton Hepburn. She married Arthur Tillman in 1914, moved to Hartford in 1918, and they raised two daughters before his death in 1939. One of her daughters preceeded her and the other, Marjorie, was her caretaker and a constant presence with her at the nursing home.
Mother Tillman leaves her daughter, Marjorie J. Tillman of Hartford; seven grandchildren: Alan Tillman, LeRoy Sanders, Elizabeth Moore, Dolores Nichols, Fanchon Mason, Jean Nixon, and Julie Simmons; two adopted grandchildren: Frances Nixon and Thomas Faniel; 34 great-grandchildren; 16 great great grandchildren; and five great great great grandchildren; several nieces and nephews, among them the Burton/LaBelle and Stewart families; two cousins: Carol Tillman Parrish and Joyce Tillman; a special friend, Odessa West; and a special "son" former Mayor Thirman Milner. She was predeceased by her husband, Arthur Tillman, a daughter, Doris E. Simmons and 22 siblings
Mother Tillman's funeral was held at Metropolitan AME Zion Church in Hartford; the Rev. Terry Jones, Pastor, officiating. Burial at Spring Grove Cemetery, Hartford.
Spring Grove Cemetery
Created by: Row Walker
Record added: Jan 29, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 17749754